Devil in Spring (Ravenels #3)
Avon / February 21, 2017 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital
Is there a book that is more eagerly anticipated by the romance community than Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Spring? Why is that? The beloved protagonists of Devil in Winter, Evangeline and Sebastian, are now the Duke and Duchess of Kingston and they do a star turn as preternaturally youthful and passionate parents, now grandparents. Their oldest son Gabriel, the new Lord St. Vincent, inadvertently gets into a serious scrape with Lady Pandora Ravenel, the season’s most reluctant debutant. Pandora is her generation’s wallflower, much more interested in her budding board games business than looking for a husband at a ball. Gabriel has a very satisfying relationship with a sophisticated married lady. Marriage is the last thing on the mind of either Gabriel or Pandora. Shades of Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub, no?
Inevitably the news of his oldest son’s indiscretion brings Sebastian to town. Over a game of pool at Jenner’s, Sebastian tells Gabriel that if need be, they’ll “buy a husband for her,” since Gabriel seems to believe that his only honorable option is to marry Pandora. Why then doesn’t Gabriel leap at the opportunity to avoid “a lifetime shackled to a girl,” that he seemingly can’t abide? That question certainly intrigues Sebastian, particularly after Gabriel pronounces Pandora “bloody ravishing.”
Looking more and more interested, his father asked, “What is the problem with her, then?”
“She’s a perfect little savage. Constitutionally incapable of guarding her tongue. Not to mention peculiar: She goes to balls but never dances, only sits in the corner. Two of the fellows I went drinking with last night said they’d asked her to dance on previous occasions. She told one of them that a carriage horse had recently stepped on her foot, and she told the other that the butler had accidently slammed her leg in the door.” Gabriel took a swallow of brandy before finishing grimly, “No wonder she’s a wallflower.”
Sebastian, who had begun to laugh, seemed struck by that last comment. “Ahhh,” he said softly. “That explains it.” He was silent for a moment, lost in some distant, pleasurable memory. “Dangerous creatures, wallflowers. Approach them with the utmost caution. They sit quietly in corners, appearing abandoned and forlorn, when in truth they’re sirens who lure men to their downfall. You won’t even notice the moment she steals the heart right out of your body—and then it’s hers for good. A wallflower never gives your heart back.”
Poor Gabriel is consumed with “real problems” and in no mood to indulge his father’s amused “flight of fancy.” The two families decide that the young couple needs some time to get to know each other, away from the chattering tongues of the fashionable world. Pandora’s guardian Devon, confronted with Pandora’s decision to hurl herself into a volcano rather than marry under duress, assures her that her choices are not quite so dire.
“And the only way you’ll marry St. Vincent is if you can convince me that you’d prefer him to the volcano.”
“But my reputation . . .”
“Worse things can happen to a woman that a ruined reputation.”
If both families are offering their progeny escape hatches from a forced marriage, then of course, according to the immutable laws of Romancelandia, they’re destined to wed. Perhaps the die is cast when Pandora, already impressed with Gabriel’s gracious and comfortable estate, Heron’s Point (at least from what she can see from her traveling coach), spots a man with a boy on his shoulders. Based on his costume—“trousers, a thin shirt, and an open vest, with no hat or necktie anywhere in sight,”—Pandora and her sister Cassandra think he’s an estate worker or a farmer. But hold on.
Pandora broke off as the carriage followed the wide arc of the drive, affording her a better view. The man’s hair was a distinctive color she’d seen only once before, the dark gold of antique bullion coins. Her insides began to rearrange themselves as if they’d decided to play musical chairs.
Gabriel and Pandora are a believably reluctant couple who find themselves, much to their surprise, falling deeply in love. Devil in Spring is such an enjoyable story—Lisa Kleypas is at the top of her game. Readers will whip through it and then settle down for a luxurious second reread, and then romp through all of Kleypas’s Wallflower stories.
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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee moved from the San Francisco Bay to eastern Tennessee. Baseball is my passion: I follow the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Nashville Sounds (farm team of my beloved Oakland Athletics). Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Helen MacInnes. I also review at Criminal Element.